Velázquez Measure Would Strengthen NYC Transportation
Washington, DC – Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) today unveiled new legislation that would steer federal funding to transportation alternatives when major transit arteries are closed or delayed due to infrastructure upgrades. The legislation, the “Increase Transportation Alternatives Investment Program,” could help expand choices for New York commuters who currently rely on the L and M trains, both of which are expected to close in the near future for extensive repairs.
“With transit options being closed for critical repairs, we need to invest in smart, alternative transportation options that create additional options for commuters,” noted Velázquez. “This legislation will help ensure federal dollars best meet the needs of New Yorkers who rely on these critical transit arteries for work or school.
Under the legislation, states securing funding through the federal government’s Surface Transportation Block Grant (STBG) Program would be required to prioritize transportation projects in areas where there is significant reconstruction or repair of transportation infrastructure occurring. The STBG provides funding that may be used by States and localities for projects to preserve and improve the conditions and performance on any Federal-aid highway, bridge and tunnel projects on any public road, pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, and transit capital projects.
“With the L Train slated to close in January of 2019 and the M train expected to close this summer, we need to think proactively about how to minimize disruption for working families,” Velázquez added. “This measure would ensure areas experiencing extensive infrastructure work move to the top of the list when seeking financing to expand transit alternatives.”
Beyond updating the STBG initiatives, the bill would create a new competitive grant program at the Department of Transportation that supports community efforts to invest in transportation. Eligible programs include carpool and telecommuting projects as well as expanding bicycle and pedestrian mobility and access. That program would also give preference to areas undergoing extensive repair of transportation systems.
The L Train is slated to close for 18 months in January 2019 to make way for repairs of the Canarsie Tunnel. Parts of the M line, which runs from Middle Village through Midtown into Queens, could be shut down for as long as 10 months for reconstruction starting the summer of 2017.